The People's Almanac #2

David Wallechinsky - 1978
    This book is not a revision of the previous People's Almanac but a brand new book containing over one million new words. Its contents equal ten-normal sized books. It searches behind the facts to offer inside information as well as constant entertainment.

High-Status Characters: How The Upright Citizens Brigade Stormed A City, Started A Scene, And Changed Comedy Forever

Brian Raftery - 2013
    Oral history of the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Shakespeare: The World as Stage

Bill Bryson - 2007
    The author of 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' isn't, after all, a Shakespeare scholar, a playwright, or even a biographer. Reading 'Shakespeare The World As Stage', however, one gets the sense that this eclectic Iowan is exactly the type of person the Bard himself would have selected for the task. The man who gave us 'The Mother Tongue' and 'A Walk in the Woods' approaches Shakespeare with the same freedom of spirit and curiosity that made those books such reader favorites. A refreshing take on an elusive literary master.

Pounding Nails in the Floor With My Forehead

Eric Bogosian - 2008
    From subway panhandlers to barbecue-crazed millionaires. Bogosian reveals the hidden humor, fear, hypocrisy and rage of Americans - including, for the first time, "Eric Bogosian," a hyperaggressive standup comic. With this seductive element of self-revelation, he heightens the disturbing connections between his characters and, by extension, between us and the people we try not to see - and not to be - every day.

Shakespeare After All

Marjorie Garber - 2004
    Drawing on her hugely popular lecture courses at Yale and Harvard over the past thirty years, Marjorie Garber offers passionate and revealing readings of the plays in chronological sequence, from The Two Gentlemen of Verona to The Two Noble Kinsmen. Supremely readable and engaging, and complete with a comprehensive introduction to Shakespeare's life and times and an extensive bibliography, this magisterial work is an ever-replenishing fount of insight on the most celebrated writer of all time.

This Is Shakespeare

Emma Smith - 2019
    A writer who surpassed his contemporaries in vision, originality, and literary mastery. A man who wrote like an angel, putting it all so much better than anyone else.Is this Shakespeare? Well, sort of.But it doesn't tell us the whole truth. So much of what we say about Shakespeare is either not true, or just not relevant. Now, Emma Smith - an intellectually, theatrically, and ethically exciting writer - takes us into a world of politicking and copycatting, as we watch Shakespeare emulating the blockbusters of Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Kyd, the Spielberg and Tarantino of their day; flirting with and skirting round the cutthroat issues of succession politics, religious upheaval, and technological change. Smith writes in strikingly modern ways about individual agency, privacy, politics, celebrity, and sex, and the Shakespeare she reveals in this book poses awkward questions rather than offering bland answers, always implicating us in working out what it might mean.

Beckett Remembering/Remembering Beckett: A Centenary Celebration

James Knowlson - 2006
    A collection of the notoriously private Beckett's reminiscences about his life and remembrances of Beckett fromthose who knew him.

Keaton: The Man Who Wouldn't Lie Down

Tom Dardis - 2004
    I don't think it will ever be superseded ... It is scholarly yet readable, the fullest, most objective and factually detailed book on virtually every aspect of Buster's career and personality: artistic, financial, and pyschological ... full of the most interesting (and surprising) information." - Dwight MacDonald, The New York Review of Books "A candid yet compassionate account of Keaton's turbulent personal life...reveals the roots of his humanity ... his pessimism ... �his� superb spirit of comic gloom ..." - Boston Globe

1066 and All That: A Memorable History of England

W.C. Sellar - 1930
    The authors made the claim that "All the History you can remember is in the Book," and, for most Brits, they were probably right. But it is their own unique interpretation of events that has made the book a classic; an uproarious satire on textbook history and a population's confused recollections of it.

Aberfan: A Story of Survival, Love and Community in One of Britain's Worst Disasters

Gaynor Madgwick - 2016
    The black mass crashed through the local school. 144 people were killed. 116 were schoolchildren. Gaynor Madgwick was there. She was eight and severely injured. In this book, Gaynor tells her own story and interviews people affected by the day's events. "Gaynor Madgwick was pulled injured from one of the classrooms where her friends died. She was left behind to live out her life. This is her story, sad, sweet, sentimental, and authentic. I commend it to you." - Vincent Kane, Broadcaster "Gaynor Madgwick's sense of injustice is palpable in her clear, riveting account of this scandal and its human cost. Despite everything, however, she is not bitter and retains the quiet dignity that is, perhaps, the true and lasting legacy of Aberfan." - Frank Olding, Planet Magazine "Madgwick does not dwell too much on the politics of Aberfan, and this is left largely to an incisive introduction by the veteran broadcaster, Vincent Kane, who leaves us in no doubt where the responsibility lay for the disaster. Thankfully Madgwick has now found happiness after a troubled life, having had to live with the guilt of the survivor for all her life. And writing so sensitively has helped her to come to terms with what happened in 1966. This is certainly not an easy book to read, but as noted by Lord Snowdon, it should and must be read by all of us in memory of those who died, whilst not forgetting those who also survived this tragic event." - Richard E. Huws, Gwales

Lost in the Funhouse: The Life and Mind of Andy Kaufman

Bill Zehme - 1999
    Based on six years of research, Andy's own unpublished, never-before-seen writings, and hundreds of interviews with family members, friends, and colleagues, Lost in the Funhouse takes us through the maze of Kaufman's mind to see, firsthand, the fanciful landscape that was his life. Andy Kaufman was often a mystery even to his closest friends. Remote, aloof, impossible to know, his internal world was a kaleidoscope of characters fighting for time on the outside. He was as much Andy Kaufman as he was Foreign Man (tenk you veddy much), who became the lovably dithering Latka on the hit TV series "Taxi." He was a contradiction, a paradox on every level, an artist in every sense of the word. In Lost in the Funhouse, Bill Zehme sorts through a life of misinformation put forth by a master of deception to uncover the man behind the legend. Magically entertaining, it is a singular biography matched only by its singular subject.

Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of The Marx Brothers

Simon Louvish - 2000
    From Groucho Marx's first warblings with the singing Leroy Trio, this book brings to life the vanished world of America's wild and boisterous variety circuits, leading to the Marx Brothers' Broadway successes, and their alliance with New York's theatrical lions, George S. Kaufman and the 'Algonquin Round Table'.Never-before-published scripts, well-minted Marxian dialogue, and much madness and mayham feature in this tale of the Brothers' battles with Hollywood, their films, their loves and marriages, and the story of the forgotten brother Gummo.

Fanny Brice: The Original Funny Girl

Herbert G. Goldman - 1992
    I've acted for Belasco and I've laid 'em out in the rows at the Palace. I've doubled as an alligator; I've worked for the Shuberts; and I've been joined to Billy Rose in the holy bonds. I've painted the house boards and I've sold tickets and I've been fired by George M. Cohan. I've played in London before the king and in Oil City before miners with lanterns in their caps. Fanny Brice was indeed show business personified, and in this luminous volume, Herbert G. Goldman, acclaimed biographer of Al Jolson, illuminates the life of the woman who inspired the spectacularly successful Broadway show and movie Funny Girl, the vehicle that catapulted Barbra Streisand to super stardom. In a work that is both glorious biography and captivating theatre history, Goldman illuminates both Fanny's remarkable career on stage and radio--ranging from her first triumph as Sadie Salome to her long run as radio's Baby Snooks--and her less-than-triumphant personal life. He reveals a woman who was a curious mix of elegance and earthiness, of high and low class, a lady who lived like a duchess but cursed like a sailor. She was probably the greatest comedienne the American stage has ever known as well as our first truly great torch singer, the star of some of the most memorable Ziegfeld Follies in the 1910s and 1920s, and Goldman covers her theatrical career and theatre world in vivid detail. But her personal life, as Goldman shows, was less successful. The great love of her life, the gangster Nick Arnstein, was dashing, handsome, sophisticated, but at bottom, a loser who failed at everything from running a shirt hospital to manufacturing fire extinguishers, and who spent a good part of their marriage either hiding out, awaiting trial, or in prison. Her first marriage was over almost as soon as it was consummated, and her third and last marriage, to Billy Rose, the Bantam Barnum, ended acrimoniously when Rose left her for swimmer Eleanor Holm. As she herself remarked, I never liked the men I loved, and I never loved the men I liked. Through it all, she remained unaffected, intelligent, independent, and, above all, honest. Goldman's biography of Al Jolson has been hailed by critics, fellow biographers, and entertainers alike. Steve Allen called it an amazing job of research and added Goldman's book brings Jolson back to life indeed. The Philadelphia Inquirer said it was the most comprehensive biography to date, and Ronald J. Fields wrote that Goldman has captured not only the wonderful feel of Al Jolson but the heartbeat of his time. Now, with Fanny Brice, Goldman provides an equally accomplished portrait of the greatest woman entertainer of that illustrious era, a volume that will delight every lover of the stage.

The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America

Isaac Butler - 2018
    Mike Nichols' 2003 HBO adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Mary-Louise Parker, and Al Pacino was itself a tour de force, winning 11 Emmys and introducing the play to an even wider public. This generation-defining classic continues to shock, move, and inspire viewers worldwide.Now, on the 25th anniversary of that Broadway premiere, Isaac Butler and Dan Kois offer the definitive account of Angels in America in the most fitting way possible: through oral history, nearly 200 voices in vibrant conversation and debate. The intimate storytelling of actors (including Streep, Parker, Jeffrey Wright, and Nathan Lane), directors, producers, and Kushner himself reveals the turmoil of the play's birth-a hard-won miracle in the face of artistic roadblocks, technical disasters, and disputes both legal and creative. And historians and critics help to situate the play in the arc of American culture, from the staunch activism of the AIDS crisis through civil-rights triumphs to our current era, whose politics are a dark echo of the Reagan '80s. The World Only Spins Forward is both a rollicking theater saga and an uplifting testament to one of the great works of American art of the past century, from its gritty San Francisco premiere to the starry revival that electrified London in 2017.

The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine

Thomas Morris - 2018
    This fascinating collection of historical curiosities explores some of the strangest cases that have perplexed doctors across the world.From seventeenth-century Holland to Tsarist Russia, from rural Canada to a whaler in the Pacific, many are monuments to human stupidity – such as the sailor who swallowed dozens of penknives to amuse his shipmates, or the chemistry student who in 1850 arrived at a hospital in New York with his penis trapped inside a bottle, having unwisely decided to relieve himself into a vessel containing highly reactive potassium. Others demonstrate exceptional surgical ingenuity long before the advent of anaesthesia – such as a daring nineteenth-century operation to remove a metal fragment from beneath a conscious patient’s heart. We also hear of the weird, often hilarious remedies employed by physicians of yore – from crow’s vomit to port-wine enemas – the hazards of such everyday objects as cucumbers and false teeth, and miraculous recovery from apparently terminal injuries.